A Majority of Americans, 51 Percent, View It Unfavorably –
By Glynn Wilson –
A majority of Americans for the first time, according to public opinion survey data, say they have an unfavorable opinion of the Tea Party movement. According to the latest Gallup poll on the subject, 51 percent view the movement unfavorably.
Less than a third of Americans view the movement favorably, a new low, according to Gallup, while a smaller percentage, 22 percent, identify themselves as supporters of the movement and 24 percent describe themselves as opponents.
About 48 percent of Americans tell pollsters they are neutral on the movement that has caused havoc in American political life since Barack Obama was elected as the first African-American president in U.S. history in 2008 and moved to legislate and regulate the health care industry for the first time.
A majority of Republicans, 58 percent, still say they have a favorable opinion of the tea party movement, while 28 percent of self identified Republicans view it unfavorably.
Democrats, on the other hand, are largely unfavorable toward the group, with 74 percent reporting an unfavorable view, according to Gallup. Independents are also more likely to view the movement unfavorably.
“Though the tea party espouses conservative fiscal goals, self-identified conservatives, as a whole, are somewhat divided about the movement,” Gallup says in its analysis. “A full third (34 percent) of conservatives have an unfavorable opinion of the group, while 48 percent are favorable.”
By contrast, liberals are largely critical of the Tea Party, with 80 percent viewing it unfavorably. Moderates’ views also tilt negative.
“The proportion of Americans who consider themselves supporters of the Tea Party movement, 22 percent, is approximately equal to the proportion considering themselves opponents, 24 percent,” Gallup says. “Almost half do not consider themselves supporters or opponents, an increase of eight percentage points since February of last year, and among the highest readings Gallup has recorded on this issue.”
The percentage calling themselves opponents reached 29 percent in February and August 2012, close to the all-time high of 30 percent.
“This percentage has fallen in 2013, with the largest drop between September and December,” Gallup says.
The image of the U.S. Tea Party movement was fairly neutral in 2010, when its political activism may have helped Republicans retake majority control of the U.S. House, according to Gallup.
“By 2011, however, more Americans viewed it unfavorably than favorably, and today they hold a more negative opinion than ever,” Gallup says. “The Republican and Democratic parties have also been suffering from an increasingly negative public image, and as long as the tea party is viewed as contributing to the unpopular partisan conflict in Washington, rather than remedying it, the movement is likely to remain controversial.”
Gallup says the movement does not seem focused on becoming a major third party in the U.S., “but rather on pushing the Republican Party to the ideological right.”
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Dec. 5-8, 2013, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 1,031 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.
© 2013, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.